Department of Cooperative Governance Director-General (DG), Avril Williamson, has emphasised the institutionalisation of long-range planning in the development of Port St Johns as a new coastal city.

This, she said, could be realised through the District Development Model (DDM) as a key element to realising full potential.

Williamson made the remarks while delivering the keynote address during the Port St Johns (PSJ) Local Municipality Strategic Planning Session on behalf of COGTA Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

In a statement, the department said the strategic planning session presented an opportunity for reflection on the performance of PSJ and to reimagine its future within the context of the DDM.

The municipality, said the department, is in an important position as it is located within the first pilot site launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa – the OR Tambo District Municipality – in 2019.

In her keynote address, Williamson reflected on the endowment of the PSJ, which is rich with pristine coastal line, complemented by fertile land. The municipality is home to diverse flora and fauna under state and communal ownership as well as a rich history and heritage.

She said: “Comparatively PSJ and the entire district have untapped potential and an unmatched potential for ecotourism and diversified marine biology”.

The DG further spoke about the spatial construct of 600kms between eThekwini and Buffalo City, which does not have a city in between and could be an integral part of the coastal belt plan linking Alexander Bay to Kosi Bay with inland and other hub development.

The department said the DG emphasised the institutionalisation of long-range planning through the DDM as a key element to realising the potential of a new coastal city.

She also emphasised the importance of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), which are more central to people development service provision and good governance.

“To this end, the IDPs and One Plan have to be integrated so as to have a positive impact on communities. The OR Tambo DDM Hub is important as it is an extension of the CoGTA support system and a resource capacity for all municipalities in the OR Tambo district particularly as it pertains to shared services to facilitate integrated planning across the three spheres of government,” said the DG.

Williamson said continued support of the pilot and PSJ continued through the Hub. The hub champions the development of master plans for water, electricity, and sanitation and road infrastructure to drive inclusive and integrated development for the community of PSJ.

The DG in her address also expressed appreciation at the opportunity to attend the session and wished the municipality and all its stakeholders well as they deliberate and chart the way forward.

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